Armed non-state actors make mistakes. Why this phenomenon occurs, and how organizations respond to their blunders, has remained understudied. This article draws on interdisciplinary research to examine sources of errors, and offers a public sensitivity argument to explain why groups claim and even apologize for their blunders. The quantitative analysis finds that all armed groups, regardless of ideology and organizational structure, are willing to apologize when there are unintended high casualty rates. A detailed analysis of three Provisional Irish Republican Army incidents reveals that public opinion is sensitive to the nature of the victims, and shows how public condemnation can impact organizational behavior.
|Journal||Studies in Conflict and Terrorism|
|Early online date||11 Aug 2016|
|Publication status||Published - 01 May 2017|